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Poster: CornyPop Date: Dec 18, 2011 3:11pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: It's a Wonderful Life

I've had two people tell me now that they heard an interview of one of the child actors from It's a Wonderful Life on tcm stating that the movie is in the Public Domain. Could this be accurate?

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Poster: LordOfTheExacto Date: Dec 18, 2011 4:09pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: It's a Wonderful Life

I've heard that elsewhere as well, as an explanation for why it became so prevalent in TV reruns. It seems unlikely, though.

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Poster: Freddie Jaye Date: Dec 18, 2011 4:12pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: It's a Wonderful Life

I'm relying on memory here...

I believe the original copyright lapsed, leading to innumerable TV showings and cheapo VHS tapes...but a legal loophole--having to do with the music, I think--allowed it to be re-registered. And that's why it's on TV now only once/twice a year.

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Poster: cosmico Date: Dec 18, 2011 4:41pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: It's a Wonderful Life

A quick scan of old posts on this forum going back a few years shows several discussions re: this movie.

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Poster: LordOfTheExacto Date: Dec 19, 2011 8:46am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: It's a Wonderful Life

Yeah, but who remembers from one December to the next?

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Poster: larus Date: Dec 19, 2011 2:48am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: It's a Wonderful Life

The copyright for the film wasn't renewed, but there were issues with underlying rights.
Here's a quick summary from the American film Institute on the matter:

In 1974, the copyright on It's a Wonderful Life lapsed, and the film was generally assumed to be in the public domain--and therefore free to any company that wished to broadcast it or distribute it on video.
(...)
In Jun 1993, however, Republic Pictures Corp. announced that it held exclusive rights to the film. Citing a 1990 Supreme Court ruling involving the 1954 film Rear Window , Republic claimed that because it held the rights to both Van Doren Stern's short story and the music used in the film--and possessed the original negative--it effectively owned the picture. Unauthorized video copies of the film were destroyed, and the NBC network acquired exclusive television rights.


Video-Cellar also noted in another post that Charade (1963) was pulled out of the public domain as it was in a similar situation as It's a wonderful life.

This post was modified by larus on 2011-12-19 10:48:32